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Organic Growing Explained

The Safer & Tastier Way of Growing Food

By Larry Cook

What is organic food?
According to the Organic Foods Production Association of North America (OFPANA) in Greenfield, MA, organic refers not to the food itself, but to how it is produced. Organic food production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes the fertility of the soil. Organic foods are produced without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. Organic foods are minimally processed to maintain the integrity of the food without artificial ingredients, preservatives or irradiation. Organic means as natural as possible.

What is organic certification?
"Certified organic" means that the food has been grown according to strict uniform standards which are verified by independent state or private organizations. Certification includes inspections of farm fields and processing facilities, detailed record keeping and periodic testing of soil and water to ensure that growers and handlers are meeting the standards which have been set. Organic certification is the public's assurance that their food and products have been grown and handled without persistent toxic inputs.

Why Eat Organic?
When you purchase organic foods, you're supporting a complete agriculture system that:
- Reduces the amount of toxic and persistent chemicals in our food supply;
- Protects the health of future generations by creating long-term solutions to agricultural problems;
- Uses practices that eliminate polluting chemicals and reduces nitrogen leaching, thus protecting and conserving our water resources;
- Supports farmers who replenish and maintain soil fertility and build a biologically diverse agriculture; and
- Produce foods that taste better because well-balanced soils grow healthy plants which make vegetables and fruits taste like they're right off the farm.


For more information, check out:

Organic Trade Association - excellent information about organic food
Environmental Working Group: top-notch non-profit educates about pesticides and environmental poisons
Mother's For Natural Law - excellent website about the problem with genetically engineered food
PANNA: Pesticide Action Network North America - excellent resource for info on pesticides and other food problems